January 10, 2012

Why I Love Chipotle

Living in San Diego, with the abundance of real, delicious and amazing Mexican food, it feels a little wrong to love Chipotle so much. It's not real Mexican food, and it really is like the Subway of Mexican cuisine, but my goodness it hits the spot. For around $6 you get a burrito that easily weighs two pounds, stuffed with fresh ingredients that you pick and choose and can see them prepare. For a little more than a dollar extra they'll give you a bag of some very yummy tortilla chips (seasoned with big bits of salt and lime!). I judge a Mexican place by its chips and Chipotle has them down.

I've loved Chipotle ever since I found out about their food purchasing habits: a significant percentage of their vegetables are purchased from local farms (about 20-30%) and so much of their meat is from naturally raised sources that when their suppliers can't meet their demands they post signs saying so. Chipotle supports the food documentary Food Inc, which is still on my Netflix queue, which leads me to believe they must not have much to hide. Ten years ago there wasn't much of a demand for sustainably raised meats, for animals to be treated humanely or for local shopping options, and now there are farmer's markets all over my city, Whole Foods is a sustainable Mecca and Chipotle and their "food with integrity" program is the leader in buying animals from real ranchers who don't use antibiotics (cue heavenly music). All, as in 100%, of Chipotle's pork is from natural ranchers (pastures, vegetarian food, letting pigs be pigs), and they're working on getting 100% of their chicken, beef and dairy from the same sources.

Chipotle also re-evaluated their menu a little while ago, now providing calorie counts next to their menu items, brown rice in addition to white and kids options. They also made the price of their salad the same as everything else to encourage salad eating.

Plus, their literature is snarky, and how can I not get behind that?

But the reason for this post? Every time I go in there when I'm feeling un-awesome they seem to pick up on it and make my day. Once I went in amazingly hung over after my worst night of drinking and a full shift the next day and got the most massive burrito and a sympathetic look from the workers who knew exactly what was up. Recently I went in on a frustrating lunch break and the cashier slipped me a mini bag of chips and a soda. It's not much, at all, but man does it make me happy. A little kindness goes a long way, and Chipotle is certainly doing it right.

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